Quitting A Job Is Scary, Not Quitting May Be Worse

School started today. I’m not there.  As the school bus made its round through the neighborhood this morning, I headed out of town for the sand and sea.  I’m writing this from my beach chair, glancing up occasionally at the pelicans as they fly past a cornflower blue sky.

I am not a teacher anymore.  I quit in order to build the life I wanted.  For a while, teaching was the life I wanted (you can read about how that changed here).  I actually quit back in 2019 and am starting my fourth year out.  

When I left, I sensed a mixture of envy and scorn from some my colleagues.  Several felt as though I should just stick around a few more years, hating my life while collecting a check and building up a better retirement.  But what kind of life is that? 

Some envied me because I had the guts and the good fortune to do what they did not; taking a chance on my future, and passing up financial stability in exchange for freedom and happiness.

My wife has a decent job and can support us while I build income in a different way.  I know I’m lucky in that respect.  But I also know that you create your own luck. Rather than just sit back and accept my situation, I chose to take a chance and fix it.

It’s not perfect. My income is volatile and never guaranteed.  As a musician and writer my financial contribution to the family is much smaller than it was as a teacher, but there are other ways to contribute to family life,  and there are other ways of being besides what your job dictates. Not everybody gets this, and I hate to see people struggling with this difference.

You are not your job, and you are not your job’s bitch.

Instead, I think we should make life our bitch by not accepting the unacceptable and by having the courage to take a chance on happiness no matter the financial implications.  

I know sometimes this just isn’t possible. But for many of us, it is more possible than we may think. There’s most likely a big difference between how much money we think we need, and how much we actually need.

If you don’t like where you are in life right now, take a look at things. Figure out why you’re unhappy. Allow yourself to imagine what you want your life to look like and make a plan to get there.  Then, like a skydiver, jump out of the airplane, pull the ripcord and work as best you can for a smooth landing.

While my former colleagues may be grading papers tonight, I’ll be driving home from the beach. While they’re in the classroom tomorrow, I’ll be reviewing tracks for my recording session tomorrow night. 

I don’t mean to assume that everyone hates their job. But if you’re someone who does, force yourself to look deeply at how much of your life is being spent in an unfulfilling way, then challenge yourself to make the necessary changes.  

Time is life.  

How you spend your time is how you spend your life.  You deserve to be happy and fulfilled in spending yours.

Follow us at Pointless Overthinking for more stories and also visit my personal blog Five O’Clock Shadow for additional, new content on a variety of topics.

33 thoughts on “Quitting A Job Is Scary, Not Quitting May Be Worse

  1. I read this post with interest. Thank you. It gave me a chance to reflect for a moment. I was laid off from my job in 2014 and after just a handful I days, it occurred to me that they did me the biggest favor, ever by releasing me from the bondage of living everyday in a cubicle. Since that time, I have lived a very relaxed life even though I have to rent out extra rooms in my house to make ends meet. I still have my home, more clothes than I will ever wear, and enough to eat. What else is needed?

    1. Outstanding! Congratulations on breaking out of the cubicle and on to a more relaxed life 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your story.

  2. This resonated with me so much. I left teaching a few months ago and wish I’d never gone into it in the first place sometimes. I loved the children and was good at my job, but the system is so broken that my mental health couldn’t cope anymore. I’ve been the happiest since I left. I’m glad your departure from the profession also had a positive impact on you!

    1. Thank DGs. It sounds like we’ve had very similar experiences, the broken system was the biggest killer for me.

      1. Close to three years only. I was very hopeful at the beginning since I’d worked with kids before and I was really good at teaching my subject but it became a very toxic environment. I switched careers at the last minute to become a teacher and it’s such a shame it wasn’t the forever job I thought it would be. I’m glad you got out as well and are enjoying life more!

    1. Thanks Cathy- I’m glad it found you! I have several friends going through rough times at work (some teachers, some not) so the topic has been on my mind lately. Thanks for reading.

  3. Wow – a powerful call to action, Todd!! Wuhoo, so inspiring to read how you changed the path of your life – and how to think about our contributions differently!

    1. Thanks Wynne! The hardest part was leaving financial security while not really knowing how things would play out.

  4. Yes, yes, yes…life IS too short. And I love your simple, declarative ‘time is life’. As someone who made a similar choice last year, my heart is with you – all the way – as I’m learning a new fall cadence outside of an academic calendar…for the first time in decades. So far, so good. Sweet posts like yours are encouraging. Thanks, Todd! 😊

      1. Yep – in higher ed…so no school buses😉 …but the discontented, toxic vibe (needing to flee) is the same, I imagine. I’ll need to read your prior post to learn more about your story; from what you mentioned here, there are parallels, I think. And we know we’re not alone, eh? Enjoy the beach, I say!

  5. You made the right decision. I say, follow your bliss. (Actually, the great Joseph Campbell said that.) If you retire a littler earlier than many expect and get a little less monthly retirement money as a result, I say you’re purchasing your freedom with that little reduction in pay. Freedom is far more important that a few hundred bucks a month. Like you, I’m about to retire early. I just sold a rent house and my wife and I are going to buy beach property in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Here’s another thing I’d like to add: Americans, think about retiring abroad! The world doesn’t end where America’s borders end.

  6. I love this…”How you spend your time is how you spend your life. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled in spending yours.”
    I loved teaching and my lovely students and diverse colleagues, but not some aspects of teaching. Though I had to retire early due to a family commitment, I am grateful for the time to follow hobbies, the pace of my life, the peace of mind and most importantly, “Me time!”
    Enjoy your time.
    Best wishes, Todd

  7. Thanks for this post!
    I was actually writing about the same topic today, while working on a chapter of a book( A collaborative book project with 10 other women from around the world)
    Yes, what you point out is so true. The power of choice, and we make choices all the time. Whether we choose to stay (even when we are unhappy) or we take a big leap and jump into the unknown. And the unknown is an essential part of life.

    I hope it is ok that I share the blog post I created a while ago, touching the same topic


    1. Of course it’s OK to share your post! I’ll give it a look😎 The book project sounds very exciting. Good luck with it!

    1. Thanks E! Of all the things in education that became difficult to deal with, the broken systems were the hardest.

  8. I was being applauded for my work all the time and dying on the inside. Took the leap a year ago to a small free standing surgery center with no weekend hours, no being ‘ on call’ and a new spirit fueled by regular hours, structure I needed, and time to breath. Scary move, but one of the best in my life.

  9. The title Quitting A Job Is Scary, Not Quitting May Be Worse was very intriguing to me as I went through a kind of the same path a couple of times of my life. And I learned something that you say perfectly with the words: Time is life. I learned to live with frugality because when you quit a job you may quit also a good salary, which was my case. But now I enjoy my time (and job) much more! Actually, I would have loved to be a teacher but from the comments I read, I think that at least I followed good advice. Great post Todd!

  10. I Thanks! I too left a good salary and we’ve had to tone down our lifestyle a bit- but as you said- it’s much better this way. 🙂

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